local government
primary & secondary education

Raising Standards of Education Across the North of England

local government

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 15:40

Tuesday 30 April 2019

etc. Venues Manchester, Central Manchester

This Forum will provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to hear the latest policy recommendations and initiatives from the Department for Education and other senior policymakers and discuss the key challenges surrounding reducing the education attainment gap of schools and academies in the North of England. Participants will also gain insights from leading practitioners and best practice case studies demonstrating proven methods of raising education standards across the Northern Powerhouse.


This Forum is specifically designed for Maintained Schools, Academies, and Local Authorities. Typical job titles include:

  • Headteachers
  • Assistant and Deputy Heads
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Executive Principals
  • Chief Executive Officers
  • Directors of Academy Trusts
  • Directors of Education
  • Heads of Inclusion
  • Heads of School Improvement
  • School Improvement Managers
  • Heads of School
  • Governors
  • Heads of Learning Services

This Forum is also open to the Private and Voluntary Sectors to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Paul Cohen, Deputy Director, School Improvement and System Leadership, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education
  • Nick Hurn OBE, Elected Member, North of England Headteacher Board
  • Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow- North East, The Progressive Policy Think Tank
  • Fiona Spellman, Chief Executive, Shine Trust
  • Dr Jo Pearson, Research Lead, Oldham Research School
View the agenda and additional speakers

According to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s February 2018 report, Educating the North: driving ambition across the Powerhouse, one in four Northern secondary schools are judged by Ofsted as inadequate or requiring improvement. While the North’s primary schools perform only slightly worse than those in London, at secondary school level the gap widens considerably, with Northern children 13 points, or one whole grade, behind at GCSE.

Through the government’s Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy, various programmes have been established to boost school performance. In October 2018, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced a £24 million funding programme, Opportunity North East, to ease the transition from primary to secondary school and improve opportunities for children across the region. This is in addition to the £70m Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy Fund, first announced in 2016, which has led to the creation of maths hubs and boosting maths teaching in the North West, home learning trials for early years children in the North, and the Northern elements of a national English hubs programme. Ensuring strong school leadership as well as the recruitment and retention of adequately qualified teaching staff are vital to improving standards of education across the North. The Government’s Opportunity Areas programme aims to address inequality in investment, but more work is needed to attract and retain the very best school leaders and teachers to serve the communities hardest hit. Employers also need to play a greater role in improving attainment and opportunities, by providing meaningful support through mentoring and apprenticeship programmes.

The NPP has called for the government to increase the number of good or outstanding schools in the North by 2022. It is clear that as well as targeted funding and support from the government, schools, local authorities and businesses must work together to tackle regional inequalities and create genuine parity in education and opportunities for children and young people across the North.

Paul Cohen, Deputy Director, School Improvement and System Leadership, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education (DfE)

Paul Cohen is a Deputy Director in the DfE, responsible for the Department’s work on school improvement and system leadership. This includes the network of Teaching Schools and National Leaders of Education, and the Department’s support for the development of Multi-Academy Trusts. Paul, who is based in Manchester, is a career civil servant who has worked in a range of posts in DfE, BEIS, DH and the Cabinet Office. His most recent past responsibility was for the recruitment of teachers.

Pauline Wood, Headteacher, Grange Park Primary School

Pauline is now Headteacher of a one-form entry state primary school in an area of high deprivation in Sunderland. Only half of her working life has been in education, the rest in various roles in PR, Hospitality and Marketing.

As a teacher, she has worked in small village schools and large urban schools. Grange Park Primary School was awarded “Outstanding” by Ofsted in 2011 and has been shortlisted 5 times for the TES Awards, including Primary School of the Year. Currently, Pauline is in other schools one day a week, who ask her to give “fresh eyes” help on how they could move forward. The school is most proud of their children’s behaviour, performance and progress in the face of some serious social challenges.

Nick Hurn OBE, Elected Member, North of England Headteacher Board

Nick is Head Teacher at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, CEO of The Trinity Catholic MAT and an NLE. Cardinal Hume was judged as outstanding in 2008 and 2014 and featured in the NCSL’s Successful Leadership programme, (which promoted the achievement of WWC pupils), Ofsted’s Raising Standards through Literacy programme and the Chief Inspectors Report for Schools in 2014 focusing on `Closing the Gap’. Nick also serves as Chair of the Ascent Special Schools Trust, Chair of Education Mutual and is a Trustee at Gateshead FE College. Nick was elected as a member of the HTB for the RSC North in 2014.

Fiona Spellman, Chief Executive, Shine Trust

Fiona began her career as a secondary maths teacher. She worked at two challenging secondary schools in Manchester and London, gaining first hand insight into the challenges facing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Fiona left teaching in 2011 to join SHINE as a Programme Manager, focusing on improving attainment mostly in London. In view of the growing disparities between London and other parts of the country, in August 2017 Fiona was appointed as CEO to lead SHINE through an exciting new transition to tackle educational inequality in the North of England from their new office base in Leeds.

Dean Jackson, Director of Education and Skills, Northumberland County Council

Dean was formerly the head of two first schools in Northumberland and a primary school in North Tyneside. In 2002, he joined the North Tyneside School Improvement Service and was the senior school improvement officer with responsibility for vulnerable schools.

In 2011, Dean joined Hartlepool local authority as Assistant Director for Education. In March 2015, Dean was appointed as Education Commissioner for Northumberland county council but, within six months, had been seconded to Newcastle city council to help resolve a number of educational challenges that the council was facing.  Dean was eventually appointed as Assistant Director, Education and Skills with Newcastle city council in September 2016.

Dean returned to Northumberland in May 2018 to take up his current position of Director of Education and Skills.


Registration, Refreshments, and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR)  (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Examining the Government's Strategy for Raising School Standards

  • Examining the current landscape of education in the north, highlighting where the most progress has been made and areas that require targeted support
  • Considering how the Northern Powerhouse funding has been spent so far and plans for the future
  • Outlining how funding from £70m Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy Fund will be used to raise standards of education
  • Sharing the outcomes achieved within the Northern Opportunity Areas in relation to the Department for Education’s strategy for the Northern Powerhouse

Paul Cohen, Deputy Director, School Improvement and System Leadership, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education (DfE) (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Driving Education Standards Through Evidence-Based Practice

  • Outlining the role of research schools in improving standards of education through effective evidence-based practice
  • Identifying clear evidence bases on interventions and strategies for school improvement, ensuring that evaluation is integrated into a school’s action plan
  • Sharing best practice and expertise with local schools and strategic partners to improve teaching practice across the Opportunity Area
  • Supporting schools to develop innovative teaching methods that enhance pupil engagement and further pupils’ understanding
  • Sharing insights from the latest research and outlining how funding from Oldham Opportunity Area board for two evidence-based programmes for the Autumn Term 2018 will be used

Dr Jo Pearson, Research Lead, Oldham Research School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Achieving Excellence Through Innovation in Primary Education

  • Demonstrating how we overcame the long-established ethos and acceptance of under-achievement
  • Taking risks to change the way the school engages with all stakeholders
  • Focusing on achieving and maintaining above average results in phonics and all core subjects
  • Implementing a completely new method of pedagogy which has been developed into a stand-alone product

Pauline Wood, Headteacher, Grange Park Primary School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Working in Partnership to Improve Educational Standards Across the North

  • Outlining the progress levels and attainment across the North East of England in recent years and the challenges that schools currently face
  • Discussing Opportunity North East and how the £24 million funding initiative will help to raise attainment and improve young people’s life chances, particularly with regard to Secondary sector
  • Pointing to examples of best practice in improving educational outcomes, particularly with regard to disadvantaged white working class students

Nick Hurn OBE, Elected Member, North of England Headteacher Board (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Addressing the UK’s North-South Divide in Education Standards

  • Introducing a ‘Powerhouse Premium’ for Northern schools, which could be used to recruit outstanding teachers to the North, and especially to its most challenging schools
  • Emphasising findings from the Pisa review that the most successful education reforms seek to transform what happens within the classroom, and teachers’ professional practice having a better impact than material or human resources
  • Exploring the ‘Northern Schools’ report which stresses the significance of skills and schools in generating a northern powerhouse through attracting and retaining skilled migrants and graduates, and improving the learning and skills of the North’s workforce
  • Addressing the key challenges facing Northern education such as educational inequalities starting before children begin primary school and resolving these through introducing graduate teacher in early years settings
  • Ensuring inputs to northern education support outcomes for instance through considering weighting funding towards areas of the UK struggling to recruit teachers and ensuring the government build on National Teaching Service and Teach First

Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Successfully Driving Disadvantaged Students to Succeed in Northern Schools

  • Exploring the Early Years Gap in the North, what some of the key challenges are and what can be done to address them
  • Emphasising the crucial importance of children’s experiences outside school, in particular extracurricular participation and the Home Learning Environment
  • Highlighting SHINE’s role as a specialist funder of education programmes in the North, and what teachers and schools can do to get involved

Fiona Spellman, Chief Executive, Shine Trust (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Exploring How Local Authorities Have Helped Achieve Excellence in Education

  • Exploring the journey in Northumberland from an inadequate Ofsted school improvement inspection in 2014 to the current position of both standards and inspection judgements being above the national average
  • Achieving year-on-year improvement across KS1 and KS2 since 2015, by investing in school improvement services,  providing a school improvement plan setting priorities for each academic year, identifying and challenging schools causing concern and by demonstrating persistence and resilience
  • Highlighting the need to work in partnership with governing bodies, external agencies, the RSC and OFSTED to drive improvements and promote high standards of educational achievements
  • Tackling the external factors that impact upon pupil achievement and challenging schools to be inclusive

Dean Jackson, Director of Education and Skills, Northumberland County Council (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change


You May Also Like